(File photo)

MANILA – President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has raised the possibility of further lowering the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) alert level status and ordering the “optional” wearing of face mask, if the booster vaccination drive becomes successful.

In a virtual speech delivered before newly elected mayors and governors from Malacañang Palace’s Rizal Hall on Friday, Marcos said he may further relax the Covid-19 protocols, in case he sees an indication that it is already “safe” to take such step.

“‘Pagka naging matagumpay ang ating booster rollout ay makikita naman natin siguro puwede na nating ibaba ang mga alert level, puwede na nating gawing optional ang mask (If our booster rollout turns out to be successful, we might downgrade the alert level and make the use of face mask optional),” he told the local officials. “Pero hindi po natin gagawin ‘yan hanggang maliwanag na maliwanag na safe na talaga (But we will not do that unless it is really safe to do so).”

As of July 3, a total of 70,780,972 individuals have already been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 but some 40 million of them have yet to receive the first booster shot, according to the Department of Health.

A total of 15,147,905 have so far received booster shots.

Marcos, who is currently in isolation after testing positive in an antigen Covid-19 test Friday, said the booster campaign rollout is key to returning to normalcy despite the prevailing pandemic.

He expressed hope that local government units would exhaust all efforts to ensure the high turnout for booster shots.

“I hope that you will be part of the effort that we have to bring us back to normal. This is really part of the effort to bring us back to normal,” Marcos told the local officials.

The booster vaccine drive is likewise vital to the safe resumption of in-person classes and more economic activities, Marcos said.

Gawin natin itong booster rollout at makakatiyak tayo [na] wala ng lockdown at ayaw na ayaw na naming magkaroon ng lockdown. Kaya’t ito naman ang magiging pang-counter natin diyan sa pagkalat na naman nitong Omicron and its variants (This booster rollout will play a part in avoiding the imposition of strict lockdowns. This will counter the spread of Omicron and its variants),” he said.

Marcos sought to ramp up the vaccination efforts following the proposal of Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte to implement full face-to-face classes by November. (PNA)